Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Indiana, NS Upgrading Tracks in NW Indiana

June 3, 2014

Amtrak passengers travelling to Chicago know well the chokepoint that exists in Northwest Indiana where Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, Canadian Pacific and CSX trains jockey for space on a congested double-track mainline owned by NS.

But the congestion may be easing as a result of a $71.4 million project that will upgrade the route at eight locations between Porter, Ind., and the Illinois border.

The project will include signal and track upgrades, including new passing sidings and high speed crossovers at several interlockings.

The route sees 14 Amtrak trains and more than 90 freight trains per day, often resulting in heavy delays. A handful of CP and CSX trains use the line via trackage rights.

An NS official president said the improvements will “help our dispatchers to move trains better through this entire area, which will help all of us in the long run.”

The project, which was originally funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act in 2010, has a target completion date of 2016.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence officially launched the project from the platform of the Hammond-Whiting Amtrak station and was joined by officials from NS, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration

“By reducing congestion where Lake Michigan funnels rail traffic east of Chicago and improving the flow of goods and people by rail the Indiana Gateway has the potential to grow Northwest Indiana’s reputation as a manufacturing and distribution center and positively impact economic development in the [Calumet] Region,” Pence said in a news release.

The Indiana Gateway project will improve seven locations on NS’s Chicago Line and one on the Amtrak Michigan Line. NS will install universal crossovers at five locations and construct a third mainline track at three locations.

“Norfolk Southern prides itself on a tradition of partnering with other transportation providers, including Amtrak,” said Jeff Harris, NS assistant vice president for operation planning. “The Indiana Gateway project provides important infrastructure improvements which, when completed, should allow for more efficient movement of passenger and freight trains through this vital rail corridor.”

Amtrak will build a new passing siding near the Porter interlocking, where NS, Amtrak and CSX lines intersect.

“Fourteen daily Amtrak trains every day share these tracks with dozens of Norfolk Southern freight trains, all with time-sensitive customers,” said Michael Franke, chief of Amtrak state government contracts. “The Indiana Gateway Project will improve some of the busiest tracks in the country, adding capacity and increasing the fluidity of all trains.”

NS Rebuilding 84 C40-8 Locomotives in Roanoke

June 3, 2014

As part of a six-year program, Norfolk Southern is rebuilding 84 General Electric C40-8 locomotives at its Roanoke, Va., shops.

Built in 1989-1990 as standard cab C40-8s, the rebuilt locomotives will have NS-designed Crescent wide nose cabs similar to those given to rebuilt SD60E’s, upgraded electrical systems, electronic fuel injection, and other features including an option that will allow them to be used as mobile standby generators.

The first unit to be rebuilt will be No. 8500 (ex-NS C40-8W No. 8305, nee CR 6032) with 18 units to be rebuilt each year. NS is also considering converting some of its 1,200 C40-9 locomotives from DC to AC traction.
The Roanoke shops specialize in General Electric locomotives whereas the Altoona., Pa., shops work on EMD locomotives.

NS and CSX for Threeeeeeee

May 31, 2014

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With Norfolk Southern and CSX each having double track mainline, there is the potential for four trains to be moving simultaneously through the Berea interlocking.

I’ve never seen four trains at the same time in Berea, but on occasion I’ve seen three. One of those occasions occurred on a recent Sunday when a pair of CSX intermodal trains plus an eastbound NS  auto rack train were passing through at the same time.

Seeing that the westbound CSX train had a number of “bare tables,” I spotted an opportunity to capture all three trains in the same image. As luck would have it, a “bare table” came along just when I needed it. I even managed to get BE tower in the frame as well.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Seeking Steam in Kentucky Bluegrass Country

May 21, 2014

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Last weekend I traveled with the Taksar clan and Richard Thompson to the Bluegrass country of Kentucky to chase the Southern No. 630 once more. This time we followed the steamer from Covington to Danville, Ky., on the Norfolk Southern Rathole Division.

Besides many mad dashes to catch the feature attraction we made a couple of side trips on Sunday.

One was to Versailles for a short visit to the Bluegrass Scenic Railway Museum. This place is quite nice, having several freight and passenger cars as well as a couple of diesels that were retired from military service going back to World War II.

A former Illinois Central Paducah rebuild Geep is in the process of getting a new coat of white and orange. The museum also has a nicely painted Norfolk & Western GP9 that powered a small tourist train along what I believe is a former Louisville & Nashville line to the Young’s High Bridge, about a six or seven mile round trip through rolling Bluegrass country.

It’s a worthwhile stop should you find yourself in the area. Especially if you want to see another spot not too far down the road in horse country.

Another place to see in Versailles is the residence of the RJ Corman family. Most of us spruce up our front yards with chrome balls or pink flamingos.

This family choose to use four brightly painted retired Geeps. On the side yard there’s a canopy protecting an F7 and a 1940s vintage Vista Dome car.

Beside that is the glass hanger for the corporate jet and helicopter. All of this is an easy sight from the highway.

The Corman headquarters in downtown Lexington boosts a pair of SD45s out front and the adjacent yard is full of interesting equipment.  I understand the Cormans  are very generous and have contributed much  to the Lexington community.

A third stop we made was on the other side of Lexington in Paris to catch a couple shots of motive power on the TTI. They have quite a roster of older GE U Boats and following model units.

Our primary reason to travel to Kentucky was to chase the Southern 630. It led the same trainset we saw it with in West Virginia several weeks ago but this time it really put on a show along the Rathole mainline.

There were two trips originating in Covington and traveling southward to Danville. It was kind of a reunion for me as I had chased a pair of Southern Railway FP7s and the Norfolk & Western 611 on this line in the early 1980s.

As I said the 630 put on a good show. On this top notch track the train maintained the maximum 40 mph speed limit.

There was some unique chatter on the scanner as 630s speedometer was broken and the engineer of the assisting SD40s would regularly announce the speed.

Here are some shots that I took. I don’t know locations as I was the driver during the race and in between photos I could only focus on the pavement and bumper in front of me.

These kind of high speed games of hopscotch just aren’t possible without a good navigator.  So enjoy our efforts.

Article and Photographs by Alex Bruchac

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Out on the NS Chicago Line Tanget Track

May 16, 2014
A lone unit pulls a westbound auto rack train through Pettisville, Ohio.

A lone unit pulls a westbound auto rack train through Pettisville, Ohio.

Between Toledo and Butler, Ind., the New York Central maintained one of the longest stretches of tangent track in the country. The former Toledo Air Line is 68.5 miles and has witnessed its share of fast running over the years.

A portion of this route was used for the famous run of an RDC car with jet engines mounted on the roof.

Today, though, federal regulations limit top speeds to 79 mph and most Norfolk Southern train lying the route don’t need that much speed.

It’s one of the busier mainline in the NS system and one that offers may opportunities for photographing trains in action at speed.

Shown is a selection of images that I made during a Saturday visit to the line in early May.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Former New York Central signals are still common on the Chicago Line, but for how long? Their replacements are already up in several places.

Former New York Central signals are still common on the Chicago Line, but for how long? Their replacements are already up in several places.

A westbound ethanol train sashays through Archbold, Ohio.

A westbound ethanol train sashays through Archbold, Ohio.

A Canadian Pacific run-through train crosses over from Track 2 to Track 1 in preparation for getting on the former Wabash line to Detroit at Butler, Ind.

A Canadian Pacific run-through train crosses over from Track 2 to Track 1 in preparation for getting on the former Wabash line to Detroit at Butler, Ind.

Intermodal trains are quite common on this stretch of railroad. The eastbound 20E splits the signals at CP 350 west of Butler, Ind.

Intermodal trains are quite common on this stretch of railroad. The eastbound 20E splits the signals at CP 350 west of Butler, Ind.

This one is for you, Marty. The grain elevator at Edgerton, Ohio, looms over a westbound manifest freight.

This one is for you, Marty. The grain elevator at Edgerton, Ohio, looms over a westbound manifest freight.

Yes, there will be a spring this year. Flowering trees witness the passing of a stack train with UP power on the lead.

Yes, there will be a spring this year. Flowering trees witness the passing of a stack train with UP power on the lead.

 

 

Jersey Boys Being Sent Out to Pasture

May 14, 2014

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On May 6 as it was getting near the time for me to mark off at work, a westbound 15N passed by with seven former New Jersey Transit locomotives now marked for MVPX. The train took a bit of a delay at CP Max but then headed west. It is seen here near Eastland Road just east of Berea and across from Cleveland Hopkins International Airpot. I took grab shots of all seven of the ex-NJT units and while nothing special as far as photos go I figured it would be the last I would ever see of these unique units.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

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There Was Lots of Green to See in Toledo

May 13, 2014

 

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While some of us were photographing the positioning of equipment for National Train Day at Toledo on the Friday before the event, word filtered in that Norfolk Southern No. 8099 was close by and leading an eastbound intermodal.

I set up on one of the old platforms at Central Union Terminal and photographed it passing where some station tracks use to be.

With the train making a stop for a crew change just ahead, I able to get over to the Miami Street bridge to catch it coming out of the Maumee River bridge.

The bright green containers and the new green on the background trees added to this “green scene.”

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

The Thoroughbred’s Best in ex-PRR Territory

May 12, 2014

 

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I wasn’t able to stray too far on Saturday morning, but with late word that the Norfolk Southern OCS train was making its way west over the former Pennsylvania Railroad Fort Wayne Line west of Alliance and there was a chance at some late day sun, I headed out to intercept it.

I headed for Mansfield, first, and didn’t have to wait very long before it showed at CP Mans.

One thing about this former PRR line, it still has a little bit of “PRR flavor” with its abundance of ex-PRR position light signals.

I knew two spots for sure where I wanted to catch this gleaming train: CP Mans, which has both a signal bridge and a mast; and at CP East Colsan, which has a pair of newer mast lights along with the old bridge.

The sky was still dark with clouds to the east in the East Colsan image. The later photos had the train heading directly into the sun, causing reflections off the clean nose of the F and making the horse logo difficult to see in a few photos.

The train is shown passing milepost 200 in Bucyrus. After a crew change the train passed a former Norfolk & Western caboose as the OCS departed Colsan.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

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Tie ‘em Down at Archbold Siding

May 10, 2014
The ritual begins with a crew member closing the door on the nose of the lead locomotive of the tanker train that is sitting in the siding at Archbold, Ohio, on the NS Chicago Line.

The ritual begins with a crew member closing the door on the nose of the lead locomotive of the tanker train that is sitting in the siding at Archbold, Ohio, on the NS Chicago Line.

It had been the end of long day of railfanning that had seen us chasing Nickel Plate Road No. 765, stopping by the National Train Day celebration in Toledo, and bagging a pair of Norfolk Southern heritage units.

As we maneuvered through Archbold, Ohio, on Ohio Route 2, I spotted the nose of an NS train.

We doubled back and as I started to photograph it I noted that it was a tanker train that was probably headed back to pick up more crude oil in North Dakota.

The train was sitting in the Archbold siding and in front of me was playing out a ritual that occurs hundreds of times a day across America on every Class I railroad.

Either the crew had outlawed or for operational reasons the operating department has told the crew the leave it in the siding and tie it down. Perhaps they had been sitting here for a while.

One crew members was already on the ground and another was tying up some loose ends on the locomotive’s nose.

In the distance I saw the headlight of an approaching stack train. The disembarking crew would not have to wait long to get a lift to their terminal.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

As a crew member adjusts the front coupler of the lead unit, the headline of the westbound stack train that will pick him up is visible in the distance on Track No. 1.

As a crew member adjusts the front coupler of the lead unit, the headline of the westbound stack train that will pick him up is visible in the distance on Track No. 1.

The crew members chat as they await their ride. "I'm telling you that Walleye I almost caught in Lake Erie last week was this long."

The crew members chat as they await their ride. “I’m telling you that Walleye I almost caught in Lake Erie last week was this long.”

The stack train is crawling at a snail-like pace alongside the tanker train.

The stack train is crawling at a snail-like pace alongside the tanker train.

With grips (or back packs) in hand that hold their belongings, and coolers that carry food and drink, the crew prepares to board the stack train and leave Archbold.

With grips (or back packs) in hand that hold their belongings, and coolers that carry food and drink, the crew prepares to board the stack train and leave Archbold.

 

The crew that is going off duty prepares to board the westbound stack train and it will resume its journey momentarily. The two trains are nose to nose as the intermodal train eases to a halt.

The crew that is going off duty prepares to board the westbound stack train and it will resume its journey momentarily. The two trains are nose to nose as the intermodal train eases to a halt.

NS Rebuilding GP50s into GP33ECO Locomotives

May 10, 2014

Norfolk Southern is converting older four-axle EMD locomotives to modern, low-emissions road switchers.

The first unit to enter the program is GP50 No. 7004, which is expected to become GP33ECO No. 4700. The work is being done at the Juniata Shops in Altoona, Pa.

NS has slated 25 GP50s to go through the program and all be numbered 4700-4724. Fifteen of the GP33ECOs will be assigned to the Chicago area and the remaining 10 will be based in Atlanta.

During the rebuild, shop forces will take high-hoods  of Southern Railway heritage and give them new 12-710ECO prime movers producing 3,000 horsepower and larger radiators to support separate after cooling. The latter will enable the locomotives to meet Tier-3 emissions standards

The locomotives will also receive Admiral Cabs, an EMD EM2000 microprocessor system, Automatic Engine Start Stop system, stand-by plug-in heaters allowing shutdown in cold weather and air conditioning.

Thirteen RP-M4C slugs will be produced to create GP33ECOs mother-slug sets. Three mother-slug sets will be assigned to the Chicago area with the remaining 10 based in Atlanta.

“RP-M4C” stands for Remote Powered-Microprocessor 4-axle Cab. The PR-M4Cs will be of similar design to the 610-class RP-M4C slugs that are currently operating with GP59Es. NS expects to assign 610-series numbers to the slugs

The project is partially funded by Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality emission reduction grants from the states of Illinois and Georgia.


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